Injury forces Sheryl Scanlan to hang up her bib

INJURY: Southern Steel defender Sheryl Scanlan has announced her retirement from the sport.
INJURY: Southern Steel defender Sheryl Scanlan has announced her retirement from the sport.

Experienced Southern Steel defender Sheryl Scanlan has played her last game of elite netball – announcing her retirement from the sport.

The former Silver Fern has not been seen in Steel colours since May 28 after rupturing a tendon in her left foot.

She is due to undergo surgery and will be watching from the bench when Steel conclude their season against the Melbourne Vixens at the velodrome tomorrow afternoon.

The Auckland native has been a member of the Steel squad since 2009, but southern netball fans were never able to see the best of her due to a raft of injuries. She has been restricted to just six appearances for Steel this season.

Scanlan said it was disappointing to end her career on a low note with injury, but was proud of what she had accomplished in netball and was excited about the next chapter of her life.

The 34-year-old will move to Brisbane with husband, Malcolm, and son Jafeth, 6, and said she was hoping to get into coaching or gain a job in the netball industry.

Scanlan coached the Rata senior A team in the Invercargill netball centre competition last year.

"Injuries aren't something you want to end your career with," Scanlan said.

"I look back on my career with some of the things I've experienced and achieved through netball, I've been very blessed."

Scanlan was first selected for the Silver Ferns in 1998 and went on to play 61 tests between 2000 and 2009.

She was a vital member of the New Zealand side which won gold at the 2003 world championships in Jamaica.

Scanlan was one of the stars of the tournament and had a brilliant performance in the final against Australia, making several important defensive plays late in the game to clinch the win.

She also attended the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, where the Silver Ferns lost a heartbreaking double over-time gold medal game to Australia.

"I went to three world championships.

"To win one in 2003 was fantastic. The 2002 Commonwealth Games was a highlight. [The gold medal game] was one of the best games I've ever played in my career," Scanlan said.

Former Silver Fern Tania Dalton rated Scanlan as one of the best defenders in the world during the early 2000s and said she formed a lethal combination with Vilimaina Davu.

"I played with her for many years, and against her, and she was always tough opposition," Dalton said.

"You'd always have her in your team. She's an all-round good sort. She'll always be remembered as one of the legends of the game."

Scanlan and her family have called Invercargill home for the past four years and she said she had been welcomed with open arms by the Southland netball community.

"I can't express how much we love Southland and can't thank the community enough for how much they've embraced me and my family," Scanlan said.

"The netball community down here has been fantastic."

Steel chief executive David Bannister praised Scanlan for her outstanding work on and off the court with the franchise and wished her well for the future.

"Sheryl has been an incredible ambassador for not only the Steel, but for our sport as a whole.

"It goes without saying she will be missed but I'm excited to see what the future holds for her and I'm sure it will continue to involve netball in some capacity as a player of her calibre and experience has a lot to offer off the court."

As of yesterday afternoon, only 100 tickets remained available for Steel's final game of the season against the Vixens at the 2400-capacity velodrome.

Demelza McLeod looks at the Steel's highs and lows, page 18

The Southland Times